One of the great kitchen garden treats of spring is a visit to the Sonia Wright Plant Nursery at Buckerfields, Ogbourne St. George, Wiltshire. If you have not been there before, take our word for it, it is an unmissable plant lover’s Pandora’s Box. You will not know what you are going to find when you get there. But several things we know for sure.
The quality of the plants is outstanding. They are healthy, big and bursting with life, ready to go straight into the kitchen garden or in the conservatory. Dotted in and around several timber outbuildings you will see how Sonia and the nursery manager, Alison Gee, have used every conceivable container to plant up their spring primroses, tulips, narcissi, hyacinths, hellebores, fritillaries and rhubarb. Galvanised water butts, animal feeding troughs, old terracotta long toms, weathered coloured ceramic pots, even buckets and recycled barrels are filled to bursting with colour and fragrance. Everywhere you look there is something enchanting and in the distance are the rolling Marlborough Downs, dotted with sheep and horses.
Sonia has won several awards at The Chelsea Flower Show, and she has also designed and created many private gardens all over the United Kingdom. Horticulture flows through her veins.
The great excitement that lies in visiting a plant addict’s den is that you can find really unusual, specialist plants, the antithesis of going to a garden centre that sells plastic trays of boring bedding plants in red, white or pink. Here you can find the rare and refined, the singular and vernacular. Some of the plants have been raised by Sonia and Alison from seed, sourced locally, grown locally and sold locally, all using their own, rich homemade compost.
This nursery is a brilliant example of how a garden can be grown sustainably, organically and ensuring bio-diversity. Edible flowers, wildflowers, weeds, self-seeded volunteers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and moths all live in happy harmony in the gentle and relaxed rhythm in which the nursery is tended. Sitting on a quiet wooden bench outside Sonia’s office, looking out on all the fruit trees, is more therapeutic than going to a Spa.
Shabby-chic, pictorial exuberance is how we would describe the style of planting here, with a jubilant clash of sunset pinks, flaming reds and citrus oranges inter-mingled amongst papal purples, Wedgewood blues and lime greens . The herbs are excellent: lemon thyme, spreading thyme, rosemary, tarragon, kitchen bay, parsley, several types of mint, several types of sage, lavenders, hyssop, myrtle, lemon balm….
Sonia also sells her plants at the Marlborough market, every Wednesday and Saturday. It is lovely to go there to buy a few treats, but when we want to fill our car boot then we drive to Buckerfields. And as we step out of the car the heart starts racing.
Ogbourne St. George
Wiltshire SN8 1SG